Air Canada narrowly averted major air disaster, according to a newly-released report.
It would have been the worst aviation accident ever.
As many as 1,000 people would have died or been seriously injured.
The findings are contained in a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The incident took place in the summer of last year at San Francisco’s International Airport.
It involved an Air Canada jet making a landing at the airport.
It was by a mere 100 feet that the Air Canada jet avoided hitting two of four planes waiting to take off.
The Air Canada pilot had mistaken a taxiway for a runway.
At the last-minute the pilot realized he had made a mistake.
He pulled the Air Canada jet up to avoid hitting the other jets on the taxiway.
“Only a few feet of separation prevented this from possibly becoming the worst aviation accident in history,” NTSB vice-chairman Bruce Landsberg said in a statement.
“Over 1,000 people were at imminent risk of serious injury or death,” he said.
Collisions on the ground are particularly dangerous because planes waiting to take off are loaded with fuel.
The deadliest aviation accident occurred in 1977.
That’s when two Boeing 747 jets collided on a runway in Tenerife on the Canary Islands.
That left 583 people dead.
Air Canada Narrowly Averted Major Air Disaster
The report was critical in the way Air Canada handled the reporting of the incident.
The Air Canada pilots were slow to report the incident to superiors.
The Air Canada pilot Dimitrios Kisses should have reported the incident immediately.
But he did not because he was “very tired” and it was late.
Instead he waited till the next day.
But by that time crucial cockpit audio recordings no longer were available.
The plane had already made another flight.
And the original recordings had been taped over.
The NTSB says the recording could have helped investigators understand why the Air Canada pilots missed the runway.